The big news in the world of sex is that Flibanserin, the drug that’s supposed to increase desire in some pre-menopausal women, has been rejected by the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
A group of activists is taking credit for pointing out the drug’s side effects, limited efficacy, and big-ticket marketing campaign. They also criticize the medicalization of female sexuality, accusing drug maker Boehringer-Ingelheim (B-I) of creating a disease where none exists.
Despite clear evidence that the lobbying had no serious impact on the FDA process, these activists are now celebrating, having made the world safe for, um, low desire.
But what’s really been accomplished?
* The further public confusion of desire and arousal. People everywhere are referring to “pink Viagra,” which is a fundamental error.
Viagra addresses arousal, not desire. Flibanserin addresses desire (albeit imperfectly), not arousal.
* Reinforcing the myth that women’s sexuality, especially desire, is more complicated than men’s.
No, no, no. Eroticism in adults is complicated, and it insults both genders to suggest that only women have emotions around sexuality. Professionals don’t understand why men don’t desire women they love any more than we understand why women don’t desire men they love.
Most men are not heartless machines eager to screw anything with a heartbeat, any more than most women are frigid creatures who only acquiesce to sex out of duty.
* Denigrating the idea that some women (and their relationships) really do suffer from low sexual desire even when the emotional and relational conditions are supportive.
It’s accurate, of course, to say that there isn’t a single level of desire that’s “normal.” But women who experience dramatic drops in their desire know there’s something wrong. And isn’t it obvious that one definition of “healthy adult” is the experience of sexual desire when the conditions are right?
* Knocking down the straw man that “women’s sexuality is so simple it can be fixed with a pill.”
C’mon, no one—certainly not the drug company—has suggested this.